Student Focus Groups

CETL can conduct focus groups with your students to provide valuable feedback about how the course is going. Our focus groups use the Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID) method. This can also be paired with a classroom observation, as sometimes it helps to speak directly with the students to ask follow-up questions and clarify issues. CETL staff can act as neutral third parties who can collect anonymous feedback and report it back to you. We ask that you limit requests for classroom visits to one per semester (this may include a course observation and/or focus group with students during that visit).

Instructional Diagnosis Process:

  • The instructor and facilitator/s meet to review the SGID process, individualize the questions, and schedule a mutually convenient time to conduct the SGID, which requires approximately 30 minutes.
  • On the day of the SGID, the instructor introduces the facilitator to the class and explains the purpose of the process. The instructor leaves the room.
  • The facilitator/s then divide the students into small groups of 3 - 4, gives them a handout that include the questions (with space for concrete examples). There is usually a question about what the students think is working in the course and a question about what they would like to see change.
  • Students in each group must come to a consensus about what they like or do not like about a course and the suggestions for improving it.
  • After students have completed their lists, the facilitator leads a whole group discussion, inviting the students to share their group lists.
  • The facilitator develops consensus among groups about the most and least effective elements of the course, noting outliers or additional information that arises.
  • After the session (within a week or two), the facilitator meets with the instructor to report the results of the SGID.
  • The instructor reports back to the class, explaining how the students’ feedback informs the course design, activities, or assignments in that course or future courses. This step is one of the most important in the SGID process, since it demonstrates the instructor's commitment to improving teaching and learning and respect for the students' feedback.

Benefits of the SGID process:

  • Consultation between the facilitator and instructor leads to improved instruction.
  • Student participation allows students to compare views.
  • Students can provide constructive suggestions.
  • Faculty and student communication improves.
  • Extremely divergent student views may be reconsidered or moderated.


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